Better Call Saul: Nailed

 Posted by on April 14, 2016 at 11:30 am  Better Call Saul
Apr 142016
Better Call Saul, Nailed, Mike stops the truck

Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Attention to detail second to none.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t reviewed Better Call Saul lately. (Maybe not.) This review of Nailed is only a day late, but I skipped last week’s Fifi and Inflatable the week before.

Partially, this is because I had bronchitis, and then I got my taxes done, and then I had to go back and get my taxes more done. Partially, though, these last few weeks of Better Call Saul have been hard to write about.

Don’t get me wrong, I still thoroughly enjoy the show. These are deftly-drawn characters, the cast is terrific, the writing is sharp, and the visuals are great. All of that is wonderfully true. However, the show isn’t nearly as witty as it once was. Go back several weeks, or go back to last season, and you’ll find my reviews are peppered with great quotes from each episode. I don’t have any great ones for the past three weeks, none of Jimmy’s signature patter. The quote above, from Mesa Verde, is cutely ironic, not witty.

The previous two weeks have been chess piece episodes, moving everything around on the board, for both Jimmy and Mike. And Jimmy and Mike have been rigidly paralleled. Consider that last week we had a long Jimmy segment of a (supposedly) voiceless man using a wheelchair, while Mike has been observing Hector Salamanaca—who, in Breaking Bad, ends up voiceless and using a wheelchair.

The fact is, though, that the slow, steady undermining of Jimmy and Mike’s moral limits so that they can eventually become the characters we know from Breaking Bad is, well, slow and steady. (I’ll add, again, that having watched Breaking Bad is by no means necessary to enjoy this show, but I’m not going to treat Breaking Bad as a spoiler for this show either.)

But now we’re up to Nailed, and Nailed is a better episode, albeit still fairly rigid in its parallel of Mike and Jimmy. The theme this week is sabotage. We saw each man prepare for that in Fifi, and now we see the results—nailed hose and transposed digits. Each is successful, but each also has unintended consequences.

For Mike, the unintended consequences were heartbreaking. He’s a pretty low-key guy, our Mike, so buying a round for everyone was sweet. He doesn’t let himself show happiness much, but he was happy about what he pulled off. Then he found out a Good Samaritan was murdered as a result. The look on his face told the whole story.

For Jimmy, the consequences are a bit of a cliffhanger. This episode was stronger for Kim than anyone else. In her confronting Chuck, and then revealing to Jimmy how much she knows, her character was more clearly and powerfully drawn than anything we’ve seen before. For Jimmy, bribing Lance the Copy Guy was a Hail Mary pass, and it was working, and then Jimmy watched as Chuck fainted and hit his head in a way that looked very scary.

I haven’t researched the causes of psychosomatic illness, but I don’t know that showrunner Vince Gilligan has either. Certainly Chuck’s illness manifests as a way of having enormous control over everyone around him. He can run Ernesto like a machine, he can make everyone change their behavior, and every time he’s uncomfortable, he can retreat into his madness. Now, I don’t think he enjoys it (although I bet he enjoys the hoops Ernie jumps through). I think that being out of control is so extraordinarily painful that any instance of it makes him symptomatic. The less he is able to control Lance, the more the fluorescent lights affect him. If Lance had caved, Chuck would have been remarkable symptom-free, but losing to Jimmy in any way is impossible to accept.

In fact, it’s impossible for either brother to accept, and I think Jimmy will find the need to help Chuck impossible to resist. He could call 911 anonymously, of course, but I doubt that’s what will happen. It’s 2002, you could probably still find a pay phone then.

What do you think, Basketcases? Did you miss me?


  8 Responses to “Better Call Saul: Nailed”

  1. I had to restrain myself from yelling at the screen when Chuck complained that Jimmy had “stabbed him in the back”> Um…Chuck? About that? Not sure you have a lot of cause to complain there…

  2. FWIW, my least favorite parts of BCS are when Jimmy is doing his fast-talking act (such as at the school in “Nailed”). So, I am thoroughly enjoy the measured manner in which this season has unfolded.

    Mike/Jimmy Parallel: “Call 911!” is what Jimmy is silently urging the 24 hour copy guy to do BUT WAS what the good Samaritan who helped truck driver should have done.

    BTW, will Lance remember his bribed promise to erase the security video showing Jimmy giving him $700? Do copy machines from the early aughts have images of what’s been copied stored in memory?

    You mentioned the “slow, steady undermining” of Jimmy and Mike’s morals. I’d add that “Nailed” included a very deliberate establishing closeup showing that Kim’s toothbrush is blue, while Jimmy’s is green. Kim is evolving into a Skylar (emphasis on “sky”) from Breaking Bad. Kim acts and talks morality, but she allows herself to knowingly benefit from Jimmy’s “bad” actions (as did Skylar with Walter).

    I know, I know. I’m a broken record on this blue/green stuff. I can’t help but notice it as it was a huge element of Breaking Bad and now, it seems, BCS. 🙂

    • I like the fast talking act, but it can get old. But Jimmy is just generally not enjoying his own wit. What happened to the big bowl of balls?

      Digital copiers (which have digital memory) have been around since the late 1990s, but the impression I got of this shop did not lead me to believe these were state of the art machines. So, maybe.

      • Gilligan and company are really good at setting up negative story permutations in the mind of the audience. I think we’ve been set up to assume that Lance will fold under pressure and Jimmy’s forging work will come to light (green light 🙂 ). Of course, Schweikart’s job offer to Kim in a previous episode had ominous overtones of being a lawyer tactic that would end up exploding in her face (which clearly didn’t play out that way).

        Regarding Jimmy’s wit and affinity for pop culture: Depending on the extent of Chuck’s injury and the extent of Jimmy’s grief/guilt, I’m giving five to one odds on a “Fantastic Voyage” reference being made in the next episode.

  3. The first letters of episode titles could also be an pro-environment statement” FRACKING B S

  4. “Oh it’s just base”

    “What am I dying of consumption”

    Ok so maybe the laughs are coming thick an fast, but there is still some hidden gems

  5. This episode and all of S-2 so far, have been working for me. Part of the reason has to do with how BCS is not unlike an intriguing, engaging and complex jigsaw puzzle. As the series has unfolded, we’ve had a sense of what the big picture is going to look like, but many, many details of remain obscured. Based on what we know from BB and what we’re discovering as we’ve moved through BCS thus far, we’ve sorted out the edges and corners, but there’s still so much to find out before we’re done.

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